Black Panther: Michael Jordan as Erik Killmonger

MICHAEL B. JORDAN

Erik Killmonger

Erik Killmonger is a new foe to Wakanda with designs on the throne. Equipped with deadly tactical skills and knowledge of Wakanda, he is a formidable enemy for our heroes.

The creative bond between Michael B. Jordan and Coogler runs deep and is evident from their previous collaborations in “Creed” and “Fruitvale Station” and extends far beyond a working relationship. So when the director proposed the idea of Jordan flexing a different acting muscle and consider taking on the role of Killmonger, a darker, more unconventional turn for the actor, Jordan agreed without hesitation.

Jordan had already been mentally in the game from the second he heard Marvel Studios was developing the “Black Panther” project.  A longtime comic book fan, Jordan could not turn down the chance to work on the film. “My initial exposure to the Marvel universe was pretty extensive,” comments Jordan. “I grew up with Marvel and comic books and was always a big fan.”

He continues, “I was very familiar with Black Panther. As a kid I always wanted to be the Black Panther. Black Panther was a character that I always looked up to and admired my whole life, so it’s pretty amazing to get to be part of the story for the big screen.”

Very little is known about Michael B. Jordan’s character, Erik Killmonger, when he’s introduced into the narrative but slowly fragments of his connection to Wakanda are revealed to T’Challa.  Killmonger is a mercenary who is just as lethal as Ulysses Klaue, so with the pair now united against T’Challa, the stakes have grown exponentially.

“Killmonger is a threat to T’Challa because he truly understands Wakanda,” explains Coogler. “That’s really somebody who could be the biggest threat. If you know your enemy, then you’re in pretty good shape. It makes you very formidable. It’s a film about what society has come to, which is information. And when it comes to information, it’s those who have it and those who don’t. And above all else, that’s what Killmonger has.”

Coogler and the filmmakers knew that Jordan would prove to be a strong foil to Boseman.  As a new foe to Wakanda, Killmonger’s designs on the throne would set an immediate and inherent tension in motion between the two men, which sets the stage for the emotional crux of “Black Panther.”

States Nate Moore, “Killmonger thinks he’s a good guy, which is the best kind of villain— a villain who actually believes in what they’re doing. Michael has much more of an outward charisma, which always helps with an antagonist but even when he’s intense there’s still a likeability there, there’s still a charisma that he brings to the table, which is really interesting.”

Describing Killmonger, Jordan says, “He is always ten steps ahead. He’s very patient. That’s a very dangerous attribute to have as a villain because he’s going to sit and wait, and he’s going to plan and calculate every move. I like to think of myself as a forward thinker, and I love playing chess and seeing steps ahead. So that was something that I definitely connected a lot with him.”

Jordan sums up, “I’m very proud to be a part of this project. Joe Robert Cole and Ryan did a really good job at laying down the foundation of Wakanda for the first time. It’s the introduction to the world and giving the voice to the people. The culture of Wakanda is very old. There is history and traditions and how they’re used to doing things. I loved the way they tied in the old-school tradition with what today is and how important foreign policy and how we interact with one another is.”

 

LUPITA NYONG’O as Nakia

Nakia is a War Dog, a Wakandan spy often imbedded in countries outside of Wakanda to observe and report back. She must decide whether she should be guided by her duty to her nation or her feelings for T’Challa. 

Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o was drawn to “Black Panther” by several different elements. “I had been wanting to work with Ryan Coogler, who I think is brilliant,” says Nyong’o, “in addition to wanting be a part of the MCU. And then the fact that this was going to be Marvel’s first black Super Hero, and that he is an African king, and the fact that we were going to be creating this really dope African country, and populate it with all sorts of badass African characters—it was a no-brainer, honestly.”

Nakia, who is from the River tribe, is a force to be reckoned with—a highly disciplined and strong-willed woman who gives as good as she gets, especially when it comes to T’Challa.  Her warrior skills match those of the Dora Milaje, the elite all-female security force, which makes her an exceptionally effective operative.

Describing Nakia, Nyong’o says, “Nakia is a bit of a rebel but also a loyalist to her country. She is in conflict with some of the ideals of her nation and wants to go her own way, but she is also really eager to serve the country she loves so much. She and T’Challa, now that he is King, are at odds as to what way forward is best for the nation. But they also have some history together, so they have to come to terms with that and figure out how to forge ahead.”

Nyong’o states that she could identify with Nakia’s free spirit and her independence. “I love a woman who goes her own way and is independent, and I am also really someone who depends on my family and friends and feels a connection to my people, and maybe has a sense of responsibility to ‘make them proud.’ So I really related to that balancing act within oneself,” comments the actor.

In the film, Nakia has an interesting relationship with Okoye, the head of the Dora Milaje, the all-female security force. “Okoye and Nakia have a sisterhood but also one that is challenged because Nakia doesn’t do so well with authority figures,” explains Nyong’o. “And Okoye also doesn’t do so well with rebels. So, Okoye represents the old guard and tradition. She’s really eager to keep tradition alive, while Nakia challenges tradition. They have a deep respect for each other, but they just see the world differently.”

Calling the cast “a godsend,” Nyong’o elaborates:  “I can honestly say that I loved working with everyone who was in this film. We had legends like Angela Bassett and Forest Whitaker and then newer faces like Daniel Kaluuya and Letitia Wright. Everyone came together with the same level of enthusiasm and passion to bring this story to life. I feel like we all really owned this story and wanted to do right by it. There was like a militancy with which we showed up every day to put in our work.”

 

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter